Earlier today (July 28, 2020), near-Earth asteroid 2020 OY4 had a extremely close, but safe, encounter with our planet, reaching a minimum distance from the Earth of about 26,000 miles (42,000 km), less than 11% of the average distance of the moon. We managed to capture its image as it swept past.
This space rock is estimated to be about 7.5 to 17 feet (2.3 to 5.2 meters) across. It reached its minimum distance from us earlier today on July 28, 2020, at 05:32 UTC (translate UTC to your time). Of course, there were no risks at all to our planet. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and cause little or no damage.
If a rocky meteoroid larger than 25 meters but smaller than one kilometer ( a little more than 1/2 mile) were to hit Earth, it would likely cause local damage to the impact area.
The Mt. Lemmon survey discovered the asteroid on July 26, 2020.
The image above comes from a single, 120-second exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17?+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope.
The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the asteroid. This is why stars show as long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow.
Bottom line: Image and information about asteroid 2020 OY4, which swept within 11% of the moon’s distance on July 28, 2020.
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Gianluca Masi is an Italian astrophysicist and founder of the Virtual Telescope project (part of Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory), consisting in several robotic telescopes, remotely available in real-time over the Internet. Through this system, real-time, online observing sessions are performed, sharing the universe with the world. More than 1 million individuals each year observe the sky through the Virtual Telescope. Gian started his interest in astronomy at childhood, later becoming a professional astronomer, earning a PhD in astronomy in 2006. At the same time, he devoted a lot of efforts to science communication. The asteroid (21795) is named “Masi” in his honor.